In The Register, Lewis Page points out that the 3D printed “Liberator” isn’t actually much of a gun at all:
People are missing one important point about the “Liberator” 3D-printed “plastic gun”: it isn’t any more a gun than any other very short piece of plastic pipe is a “gun”.
Seriously. That’s all a Liberator is: a particularly crappy pipe, because it is made of lots of laminated layers in a 3D printer. Attached to the back of the pipe is a needlessly bulky and complicated mechanism allowing you to bang a lump of plastic with a nail in it against the end of the pipe.
An actual gun barrel is a strong, high quality pipe — almost always made of steel or something equally good — capable of containing high pressure gas. It has rifling down the inside, making it narrow enough that the hard, tough lands actually cut into the soft bullet jacket (too small for the bullet to actually move along, unless it is rammed with massive force). At the back end there is a smooth-walled section, slightly larger, into which a cartridge can be easily slipped.
It’s not much of a gun at all. But as with the old saying about the dancing bear, it’s not how well it dances but that it dances at all. After some 100,000 downloads, the company was requested to take the files offline on Thursday:
#DEFCAD has gone dark at the request of the Department of Defense Trade Controls. Take it up with the Secretary of State.
— Defense Distributed (@DefDist) May 9, 2013